Campaign against Obama and health care to focus on taxesby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A group funded by billionaire industrialist David Koch will start running $600,000 in ads in Minnesota criticizing President Barack Obama's health care law.
The ad campaign from the group Americans for Prosperity is the latest effort from conservatives hoping to gain a political advantage from the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act.
However, some statements about the law just aren't true.
It didn't take long for Republicans to seize on the Supreme Court's ruling. On Thursday, the court ruled that a requirement that every American buy health insurance is constitutional because the penalty for not obtaining coverage amounts to a tax increase. Americans for Prosperity is linking the tax hike to President Obama in a new television advertisement.
"President Obama promised us his health care law is 'absolutely not a tax increase.' Now we know that's not true," the ad said. "Obama's health care law is actually one of the largest tax increases in history."
Americans for Prosperity said it will spend $9 million on ads in nearly a dozen states. It appears to be part of a coordinated effort to push the tax increase message.
Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., issued a statement yesterday saying the law is one of the largest tax hikes in the nation's history. Rep. Phillip Gingery, R-Ga., went one step further on the radio program Marketplace Thursday night.
"This indeed is the largest tax in the history of our country," Gingery said.
Kurt Bills, the Republican-endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, issued a fundraising letter that also called the health care law the largest tax increase in American history.
There are tax increases in the Affordable Care Act, including a tax on medical device manufacturers, health insurers and drug companies. But several nonpartisan researchers say it is false to say the tax hikes tops the chart of the largest in U. S. history.
"Right now all of the evidence points to that this is not the largest tax increase. It's not one of the largest tax increases," said Aaron Sharockman, a researcher for PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning feature of the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) that checks whether statements made by politicians are true. He said there have been many other tax increases larger than the ones in the health care law.
"When you go back and look back over time and try to factor in for the relative impact of a tax increase, what we found is that there were at least five tax increases that were significantly higher, and that's only going back to 1940. Then there is another group of three that are about the same size," Sharockman said.
Other Republicans say the health care law is a tax on every American. Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made that claim to a group of protesters outside of the Supreme Court on Thursday.
"The result today will be that every state will be required and every American will be required to pay this unconstitutional tax under the individual mandate. Every American will be required to pay it," Bachmann said.
That claim upsets Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gruber advised Mitt Romney when he implemented the Massachusetts health care law that includes an individual mandate. He also consulted the Obama administration on the Affordable Care Act.
Gruber said only those who do not buy health insurance will pay the tax. That means people who have health insurance through private or public programs won't have to pay up. He also said there are tax cuts in the plan.
"On net, there's a huge tax cut for Minnesotans, because there are going to be huge tax subsidies that will more than offset any penalties that they will have to pay."
Gruber also said the Congressional Budget Office predicts that only 4 million out of the nation's 313 million people will pay a penalty for not buying health insurance. In Massachusetts, he said less than 1 percent of the state's population paid the penalty for not buying health insurance.
- All Things Considered, 06/29/2012, 5:54 p.m.